Is He Gambling With Our Future?

What does gambling really represent, and can a relationship survive if gambling eats into the shared finances?

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Q I’m really struggling to make ends meet. I work full time and so does my boyfriend, and we’re supposed to be saving up to get married. We already live together but I find that I’m having to put more than him into the pot because he wastes so much of his money on gambling.

If he’s not in the bookies he’s online gambling and it’s really getting on my nerves. He says it’s his way of having fun and I shouldn’t complain because he works hard and deserves to have a hobby. I can’t argue with that but at the same time I wonder whether we’ll ever afford to get married! I’m fed up with supporting his ‘hobby’.

A Why do you want to be married to him? Are you willing to be married to his ‘hobby’ too?

If you both want to save up for a wedding as well as paying for all the ongoing household bills, then it makes sense to have two joint bank accounts - one for each of these.

You can then both put the same amount into each account each month - with both signatures needed before any withdrawals can be made.

But do you really want to have to behave like the mother of a teenager and ‘supervise’ his finances for him?

People do things for a reason – usually to feel good or to avoid feeling bad.

I don’t doubt that he gets a buzz (or rather a dopamine 'rush' in his brain which drives addictive behaviour) from the thrill of gambling but this seems to have stifled his rational adult thinking.

Although to be fair there are some professional gamblers around who make a fortune out of their ‘hobby’. He clearly isn’t one of them.

I wonder how long he’s been gambling for. Since before you met him, or since he felt the added responsibility of being in a relationship, getting married and potentially becoming a father?

Maybe gambling is his way of rebelling and taking risks that could mess things up for himself – and your future plans.

Maybe he hasn’t the courage to tell you that he doesn’t want the same things as you do.

Maybe he feels like a loser in some area of his life and he’s trying to feel like a winner with his gambling – which is ironic as he seems to be a loser at gambling!

Maybe he’s bored. If so he could find a different hobby that rewards him in different ways – such as creating things or services to sell, or by becoming a charity volunteer. Hardly a match for the buzz of the gamble - but these options do bring their own intrinsic rewards.

Obviously I don’t know his history (or yours, and why you would be in a relationship that had a third party in it… the gambling).

I’m curious about whether your struggle with him is in some way a re-enactment of another relationship you’ve seen or experienced.

The rescuing, supervising parent of the selfish, careless child?

The distracted unavailable man and the overcompensating woman? (or vice versa)

Regardless of what might be being played out from the past, what matters most is your shared version for the future.

What situation and outcome would you be most happy with?

Be crystal clear about that and sensitively share that with him - for instance if you want him to set up a boundary around the money he spends on gambling, or on the channels he uses etc.

He has to see the point of this and be willing to go along with it, and not feel that you are controlling or depriving him.

The bottom line is that he has to want to change his behaviour because the new rewards are a worth it.

You may have to face the realisation that he has gambled away your shared future - and that leaves you with a decision as to where you place your own stake into the future.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR - where you’ll also find a FREE questionnaire called How To Tell If You Need To Sort Yourself Out…perhaps you could mention it to him, and both answer the questions in a light-hearted but sincere way… and find out much more about one another before you ‘tie the knot’. - helping women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviour - to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! - a series of 10 online Psycho-Emotional-Educational self-help workshops - for anxiety, depression, anger, stress, happiness, self-esteem & confidence, mindful living, self-awareness & development, understanding relationships, and balancing your mind, body and weight.

Maxine Harley